Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remembering Brothers Richman, Arthur & Milt


Back in the day in the late fifties when I was a journalism major at New York University I worked the five P.M. to past midnight shift at United Press International then located in the New York Daily News Building not far from the United Nations.
It was there that I met Milton Richman, the outgoing and at the same time introspective top gun in the sports department. I was a lowly sports assistant but he mentored me, cared about me and truly kick-started my career in sports journalism. Lessons learned from him are still part of my craft.
The typing back then was on old IBM clunky typewriters and yellow paper. I would do a story and there was Milt standing behind me telling to write "faster, faster," to leave stuff out, to reverse sentence structure, to get a more exciting lead. Truly, it was like a post graduate course in the intricacies and nuances of how to be a fast and efficient writer of all things sports.
We would go out for dinner very late and sometimes Milt's younger brother Arthur would come along. He was then a sports writer for the New York Daily Mirror, of not such blessed memory. It was in these Richmanesque supper times that I learned more about the brothers, how much affection they had for each other, what New York characters they were, how their knowledge and contacts in the world of sports reached Niagaraesque heights.
I also learned about their passion for the St. Louis Browns. As kids, the brothers Richman used to hang out by the visiting players' gate at Yankee Stadium and when the St. Louis Browns visited they adopted the brothers taking them on trains to Philadelphia and Boston.
Arthur Richman died in his sleep at age 83 in his Manhattan apartment on March 25th ending a life of 40 years in baseball where his greatest claim to fame was recommending Joe Torre as manager. He was laid to rest in his 1944 Browns' cap.
Milton Richman passed in 1986. He was inducted into the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame in 1981.
Now the brothers Richman belong to history; they will not be forgotten.
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010).
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

SPRING BASEBALL BOOKS PART 3: THE BOOK REVIEW




“Bill James Gold Mine,” “Sweet Lou and the Cubs,” “The Fielding Bible,” “Graphical Player” “Tim McCarver’s Diamond Gems”

This spring has once again seen the pub of many different kinds of sports books – and especially baseball books with a statistical slant. For those into that kind of thing, this is especially good news.
“Bill James Gold Mine,” (Acta Sports, $23.95, 271 pages. paper) is the latest publication from the man who made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s and is still going strong asking the right questions, asking ways to measure players and aspects of the game. Stats, charts, tables, essays – if you are a Bill James fan – this is the book to grab hold of.
“Sweet Lou and the Cubs” by George Castle (The Lyons Press, $16.95, 283 pages, paper) is all about one of the nicest men in baseball – public image for some notwithstanding. Castle has been a coverer of the Cubs since 1980 and for the past two seasons has seen Piniella up close. This is a book filled with gossip, inside scoops, new awarenesses. Must read for fans of the Cubbies.
“The Fielding Bible, Volume II” by John Dewan ($23.95, 400 pages, paper) is a mother lode of all kinds of info on the area of fielding, an area that has been largely overlooked in most analytical treatments on the national pastime. There are defensive scouting reports, defensive runs saved, a couple of interesting essays by the one and only bill James. “The Fielding Bible, Volume II” is a keeper.
“Graphical Player” with a host of contributors featuring writers from “Heater” magazine (ActaSports, $21.95, paper) is highly recommended fir veteran fantasy players and all interested in new insights and ways to look at major and minor leaguers. This sixth edition of “Graphical Player” boasts dashboards revealing at a glance much info.
“Tim McCarver’s Diamond Gems” (McGraw-Hill, $24.95, 270 pages) edited by is an interesting kind of book showcasing as it does favorite baseball stories from the multitude of celebrities who have appeared on his show through the years. From managers thru catchers to the rest of the lineup, the book is a treasure chest of baseball legend, love, and lore.
Backlist item: “Shooting the Pistol” ( Louisiana State University Press, $23.00, 120 pages) is a picture book with images created by Danny Brown. It showcases one of basketball’s flashiest performers in his glory days at LSU.



Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including “New York City Baseball,1947-1957″ and “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball”. His “Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House that Ruth Built” (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

**Call for Fenway Memories - now working on "Remembering
*****Fenway Park" - will feature stories– first game attended, marker moments, odd events, tales of a special player at the Fens, architectural features... Please contact me by e-mail if you have something to contribute.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

REMEMBERING GEORGE KELL


The sad news of passing of Hall of Famer George Kell at his home in Swifton, Arkansas in his sleep on March 24, 2009 has just come out.

The former star third baseman Kell grew up in Swifton and lived in the same house from his birth to the time it burned down in 2001. It was rebuilt on the same land.

I had the good fortune to interview this true southern gentlemen and twice over the past few years – for my REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (2009) and for my REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK to be published in 2011. Both times he was forthcoming, anecdotal, interesting.

For the Yankee Stadium book he offered unique insights about what it was like to come in and perform there as an opposing player.

The multi-time All Star played for the Red Sox from 1952 to 1954 and really enjoyed the fans and the environment at Fenway Park.

Here, in draft form, is just some of the oral history subject matter he gave me: (FOR MORE - - BUY REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK in 2010)

GEORGE KELL: Fenway Park was sort of made for me. I didn’t have a lot of power. I’m a right-handed hitter and I could reach that left-field fence occasionally. And I just loved that ballpark. The people were great. The stands were full every day. It was just baseball, baseball. I couldn’t wait to get out there.


I was traded from Detroit to Boston on June 3, 1952: Hoot Evers, Johnny Lipon, and Dizzy Trout for Bill Wight, Walt Dropo, Fred Hatfield, Johnny Pesky, and Don Lenhardt. and the first day there I hit a home run over the left-field fence and I hit a double off of the left-field fence and I thought “my goodness, what could I do here? I’m liable to hit a lot of home runs and a lot of doubles.” But it wasn’t that way, it wasn’t that easy. They pitch you a little different. They’re not going to keep bringing the ball inside to where you can pull it all the time.

I began my career in 1943 with Philadelphia had played in Fenway as an opposing player for quite a few seasons coming in with the Athletic uniform and then the Tiger uniform.

There was something about Boston and it still is today. I was traded for an idol: Pesky. But I did get a wonderful reception. I broadcasted for the Tigers for 37 years. I came into Fenway all through the summers at various times. There is something about Fenway Park that is a little bit different.

I felt like I would never go into a slump at Fenway Park. I felt like I could always reach that wall out there one time everyday, but I didn’t. But it felt that way. And I felt like I could hit .300 there and I did the years I was there.

Everybody was trying to pull the ball. And I don’t think I ever had so many hot shots hit right at me by people just like myself who were trying to reach the left-field wall. Day after day after day that I was very busy at third base. That didn’t bother me. But I had to be more alert. There was not a lot of bunting, everybody was trying to reach the left-field fence and could. It was not an easy place to play third base.

Ted Williams came back from the Korean War and played at the end of my career there. Yes, I got to be close friends with Ted Williams. Maybe for one specific reason. When I won the batting title on the last day of the season in 1949, I won it because Ted went hitless that last day and I had a couple of hits. And I won it by two thousandths of point and boy I tell you to me it was tremendous for me but a tremendous loss for him because he was he was the all-time great hitter. And the next year at Fenway a man asked me if I would pose for a picture with Ted Williams. I left the dugout and I started over there.

Ted said, “No, no, no, we are going to make it in front of your dugout because you won the batting title from me fair and square.”

And I thought, “what a wonderful man he is.” We remained good friends from then on. . . .
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books.



The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010).

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What's in a Yankee Nickname? (I)

Yankee nick-names have run the gamut from complimentary to embarrassing, from hero worshipping to amusing from over-reaching to on target. Herewith, a sampler.

"The Babe" George Herman Ruth leads off the list and paces the list in most nick-names acquired. First called "Babe" by teammates on the Baltimore Orioles, his first professional team because of his youth, G.H.Ruth was also called "Jidge" by Yankee teammates, short for George. He called most players "Kid," because he couldn't remember names, even of his closest friends. Opponents called him "The Big Monk" and "Monkey."


Many of Babe Ruth's nick-names came from over-reaching sports writers who attempted to pay tribute to his slugging prowess:


"The Bambino", "the Wali of Wallop", "the Rajah of Rap", "the Caliph of Clout", "the Wazir of Wham", and "the Sultan of Swat", The Colossus of Clout, Maharajah of Mash, The Behemoth of Bust, "The King of Clout."


Other Yankee nick-names, expressions, bon mots of note for "Babe" and "Ruth" In spring training 1927, Babe Ruth bet pitcher Wilcy Moore $l00 that he would not get more than three hits all season. A notoriously weak hitter, Moore somehow managed to get six hits in 75 at bats. Ruth paid off his debt and Moore purchased two mules for his farm. He named them "Babe" and "Ruth."


"Babe Ruth's Legs" - Sammy Byrd, used as a pinch runner for Ruth "Bam-Bam" - Hensley Meulens could speak about five languages and had a difficult name to pronounce.


"Banty rooster" - Casey Stengel nickname for Whitey Ford because of his style and attitude.


"Battle of the Biltmore" 1947 Series celebration in Manhattan's Biltmore Hotel was a time and place where Larry MacPhail drunkenly fought with everyone and ended his Yankee ownership time.
"Biscuit Pants" - A reference to the well filled out trousers of Lou Gehrig.


"Billyball" - the aggressive style of play utilized by Billy Martin


"Blind Ryne" - Ryne Duren because of his very poor vision, uncorrected -20/70 and 20/200.


"Bob the Gob" - Bob Shawkey spent most of 1918 in the Navy as a yeoman petty officer aboard the battleship Arkansas.


"The Boss" - A a formerly apt description of Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner


"Boomer" - David Wells, for his in your face personality.


"The Boston Massacre" - described the way the Red Sox collapsed in 1978 and the seep of a four game series by the Yankees that September.


"Broadway" - Shortstop Lyn Lary was married to Broadway star Mary Lawler.


"Bronx Bombers" For the borough and home run power.


"Bronx Zoo" a derogatory reference to off color behavior on and off the playing field through the years and especially in the 1970s.


"Brooklyn Schoolboy" was what they called Waite Hoyt for his time as a star pitcher at Erasmus High School.


"Bulldog" - Jim Bouton, for his tenacity.


"Bullet Bob" - Bob Turley, for the pop on his fastball.


"Bye-Bye"- Steve Balboni, the primary DH of the 1990 Yankees had 17 homers but hit just .192.


''Carnesville Plowboy'' - Spud Chandler for his hometown of Carnesville


"Deacon" - Everett Scott, for his not too friendly look.


"Georgia Catfish" - Jim Hunter, name given to him by Oakland owner Charles Finley
""the CAT-a-lyst," name given to Mickey Rivers by Howard Cosell for his ability to trigger Yankee team offense.


"Chairman of the Board" - Elston Howard came up with the phrase in tribute to Whitey Ford and his commanding and take charge manner on the mound.


"Clutch versus Clutch" - qualitative commentary about Yankee-Red Sox competition.


"Columbia Lou" - Lou Gehrig because of his collegiate roots.


"Commerce Comet" - Mickey Mantle


"The Count" - Sparky Lyle, handlebar mustache and lordy ways


"The Crow" - Frank Crosetti loud voice and chirpy ways


"Danish Viking" - George Pipgras, for his size and roots.


"Daddy Longlegs. - Dave Winfield, for his size and long legs.


"Death Valley" - the old deep centerfield in Yankee Stadium - a
home run here was a mighty poke.


"Dial-a-Deal - Gabe Paul earned this one for his telephone trading habits.


"Donnie Baseball" - Don Mattingly was the only player in any sport to have a nickname with the actual name of his or her sport in it. Some say it was coined by Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay; others say it came from Kirby Pucket. Kay takes the credit; Mattingly gives the credit to Puckett.

"El Duque" - Orlando Hernandez


"El Duquecito" -ADRIAN HERNANDEZ because of a pitching style similar to Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, the younger Cuban is of no relation to his elder countryman.


"Ellie" - affectionate abbreviation of Elston Howard's first name


"Father of the Emory Ball" Rookie right-hander Russ Ford posted a 26-6 record with 8 shutouts, 1910


Fireman" - The first to have this nick-name was Johnny Murphy, the first great relief pitcher who put out fires. Joe Page picked up this nick-name for his top relief work later on.


"Five O'clock Lightning" - At five o'clock the blowing of a whistle at a factory near Yankee Stadium signaled the end of the work day in the 1930s and also what the Yankees were doing to the opposition on the field.


Flash" - Joe Gordon earned this nick-name because of his fast, slick fielding and hot line drives.


Four hour manager" - Bucky Harris, who put his time in at the game and was finished.


"Fordham Johnny" - for the college Johnny Murphy attended.


"Friday Night Massacre" - April 26, 1974, Yankees Fritz Patterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, and half the pitching staff were traded to Cleveland for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow, and Ceil Upshaw.


"Gator" - Ron Guidry, who came from Louisiana alligator country.


"Gay Caballero" - Lefty Gomez for his Mexican roots and fun loving ways.


"Gay Reliever" - Joe Page for his night owl activity.



" Gehrigville." Bleachers in right-center at Yankee Stadium.


"The Godfather" - Joe Torre, for his Italian roots and his leadership skills on the baseball field.


"Gooneybird" - Don Larsen's teammates called him that for his late-night behavior.


"Goofy" or "El Goofo" - earned by Lefty Gomez for his wild antics


"Goose" Gossage


"The Great Agitator" -for Billy Martin, self explanatory.


"Grandma" - it was not a nick-name Johnny Murphy liked, but he was called that for his pitching motion, rocking chair style. Another story is that fellow Yankee Pat Malone gave him the name because of his complaining nature especially as regards food and lodgings.


"Happy Jack" Jack Chesbro's time as an attendant at the state mental hospital in Middletown, New York where he pitched for the hospital team and showed off a very pleasant disposition won him the nickname.


"Holy Cow" - one of Phil Rizzuto's ways of expressing awe


"Horse Nose" - a nick-name given catcher Pat Collins by Babe Ruth, a reference to a facial feature.
"Horsewhips Sam" - Sam Jones earned this because of his sharp-breaking curve ball.


"House That Ruth Built" - Ruth's immense popularity that propelled the Yankees into their new home, Yankee Stadium


"Home Run" - Frank Baker, for the two game winning homers he hit in the 1911 World Series.


"Home run twins" Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, phrase coined in 1961.


"Iron Horse" - Lou Gehrig


"Joltin' Joe" - Joe DiMaggio, for the jolting shots he hit.


"Jumping Joe" Joe Dugan earned his nickname for being AWOL from his first big league club as a youngster


"Junk Man" - Eddie Lopat frustrated hitters off stride with an assortment of slow breaking pitches thrown with cunning and accuracy.


"Kentucky Colonel" - Earl Combs came from Kentucky


"The King and the Crown Prince" - Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig


King Kong" Charlie Keller earned this nick-name because of his muscular body type and black, bushy brows.


"Knight of Kennett Square" - Herb Pennock because he raised thoroughbreds and hosted fox hunts in his home town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Knucksie" - Phil Niekro because of his knuckleball




Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010).
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

BASEBALL NAMES AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY (Part 9)


Another spring. Another baseball season. Another time for baseball lingo to be spoken, The words and phrases are used and written day after day, year after year - generally without any wonderment as to how they became part of the language. All have a history, a story.


For those of you who liked Parts I – VIlI. and wanted more, here is more.

As always, reactions and suggestions always welcome "Wabash George" ("Big George")moniker for George Mullin because he played semi-pro ball in Wabash, Indiana. He hurled for the Detroit Tigers from 1902-1913 among other teams.

"Walk-off home run" game ending home team home run in the bottom of the ninth inning or in an extra inning game.

"Wall-scraper" home run when ball hits the outfield fence above the home-run line.

"Wahoo Sam" Sam Crawford, Detroit Tiger star and Hall of Famer, hailed from Wahoo, Nebraska.

"Whale" Former Brooklyn Dodger hurler Don Newcombe was called this for his size and some would say slow manner. ("Newk") was used too, a shortening of his surname.

"White Rat" Former manager Whitey Herzog earned the name for his blonde hair and scheming ways.

"The Whiz Kids" Back in the 1950's the Phillies had a really young team that was surprisingly good.

"The Wheeze Kids" The Philadelphia Phillies had some good teams in the 1980s that featured old timers like Steve Carlton Pete Rose, etc.

"The Wild Hoss of the Osage" Oklahoma bred Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s ("pepper") Martin, an aggressive player, was said to play baseball like a "wild mustang" and was given his nickname in the minor leagues.

"The Wild Thing" Mitch Williams, pitcher, would hit and walk a lot of batters, as well as throw a lot of wild pitches. He also had wild hair and a wild pitching motion. This nickname was also used in the movie "Major League."

"Willie the Wonder" Hyperbolic name pinned on Willie Horton who played for several American League teams in 1960s and 1970s and impressed people with his talent.

"Walking Man” Eddie Yost played nearly two decades in the major leagues. His lifetime batting average was only .254, but that didn't keep him off the bases. Yost coaxed pitchers into yielding I,614 walks to him--almost a walk a game through his long career--which places him fifth on the all-time bases- on-balls list.

"The Weatherman" Mickey Rivers had a knack for predicting weather.

"The Warrior" Paul O'Neill had this name pinned on him by George Steinbrenner as a nod to the Yankee outfielder's fiery ways.

“Wee Willie” He was born March 3, 1872, in Brooklyn, New York. He died on January 1, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York. William Henry Keeler made his debut at the Polo Grounds as a member of the New York Giants on September 30, 1892. He singled off the Phillies' Tim Keefe for the first of his 2,926 career hits. The son of a Brooklyn trolley switchman, Keeler Two years later became a member of the famed Baltimore Orioles. A lefty all the way, he weighed only 140 pounds and was a shade over 5'4". His tiny physical stature earned him his nickname, but pound for pound he was one of the greatest hitters baseball ever produced. Keeler played for 19 years and recorded a lifetime batting average of .345, fifth on the all-time list. He collected 2,962 hits in 2,124 games, spraying the ball to all fields. Wee Willie's greatest year was 1897, a season in which he batted .432, recorded 243 hits and 64 stolen bases, and scored 145 runs. He swung a bat that weighed only 30 ounces, but as he said, he "hit 'em where they ain't" --and that was more than good enough to gain Keeler entry into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1939.

Keeler opened the 1897 season with two hits in five at bats against Boston. Then for two months the slight southpaw swinger slapped hit after hit, game after game - from April 22 to June 18 - for 44 straight games. His record stood for 44 years until Joe DiMaggio came along and snapped it in 1941.

The Sporting News offered this mangled prose about Keeler as a fielder. "He swears by the teeth of his mask-carved horse chestnut, that he always carries with him as a talisman that he inevitably dreams of it in the night before when he is going to boot one - muff an easy fly ball, that is to say, in the meadow on the morrow. 'All of us fellows in the outworks have got just so many of them in a season to drop and there's no use trying to buck against fate'."

In 1898, a year after Keeler batted that astonishing .432, he set a mark for hitting that will probably never be topped, notching 202 singles in just 128 games. He truly was hitting them where the fielders weren't. It was a season in which the left-handed bat magician recorded 214 hits. His batting average was .379, but the incredible amount of singles amassed saw him register a puny .410 slugging percentage. That 1898 season Keeler came to bat 564 times in 128 games and walked only 28 times and did not strike out.

A slugger he was not. But, oh what a hitter!

William Henry Keeler played 19 years in the major leagues and finished his career with a .345 lifetime batting average. Quite justifiably the little man was one of the first to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hal of Fame in 1939.

“The Whip” A 6'6" right-hander, Ewell Blackwell had a sidearm motion and a crackling fastball that terrorized National League batters in the 1940's and 1950's. The former Cincinnati star's right arm seemed to "whip" the ball in at the batter, and that's how his nickname came to be. Winner of sixteen straight games in 1947, he struck out almost a batter an inning during his ten year career.

“Wild Horse of the Osage” Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin, better known as Pepper Martin, starred for 13 seasons with the National League's St. Louis Cardinals. He could hit, he could run, he could field, he could throw, he could win--and he did all of these things with wild abandon, with an √©lan and a verve that earned him his nickname. If he couldn't stop a hard smash down to his third-base position with his glove, he would stop the ball with his chest. If he could not get into a base feet-first, he would leap into the air and belly-flop his way there. Martin took the extra base, risked the daring chance, played with fire and fury. Three times in the mid-1930's he led the league in stolen bases, and throughout that decade he functioned as the horse that led the Cardinal "Gashouse Gang" (see GASHOUSE GANG).

"Wizard of Oz" An abbreviation of his first name and tip of the cap to Ozzie Smith for his peerless fielding skills. No other shortstop could get to the ball as fast as, and utilize the fielders around him like Ozzie.

"Yo-Yo" - for small size and hyper activity, Luis Arroyo

"You Could Look It Up" Casey Stengel began his major league playing career in 1912, his managing career in 1934. He played for 14 years, managed for 25 years. His baseball career ended in 1965 after stints with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants, New York Yankees, New York Mets. Casey could talk for hours about baseball and life. And sometimes in the midst of animated conversation about a utility outfielder on the old Boston Braves, or a balk by a forgotten pitcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates--to emphasize that he was not relating fiction he would exclaim: "You could look it up!"






Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010).

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Spring Baseball Books Part II: “Under The March Sun,” “Becoming Manny,” “As They See ‘Em,” “Hardball Times Season Preview 2009”



All sizes, all shapes and for all tastes and budgets the spring 2009 parade of books about different aspects of the national pastime keep coming. Some are from famous authors and major publishers with some advertising and marketing muscle behind them. Others are by first time of little known authors from mid-level or small houses. All have something to offer – especially if you are a baseball fan.


“Definitive, fascinating, a groundbreaking cultural and sports history of spring training from humble origins to mega-million status today. A winner.” Those are the words I used to blurb “Under The March Sun” by Charles Fountain (Oxford University Press ($24.95, 336 pages) when I first came into contact with the work before it was an actual book. I feel the same way about it now. Fountain has created a fountainhead of work from the phenomenon’s origins in the 19th century to the present – this is a home run of a book filled with anecdotes, facts, facets bound to illuminate and entertain.

“Becoming Manny” is the effort of Dr. Jean Rhodes, the world’s leading expert on youth mentoring and a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Shawn Boburg, a reporter at the Record in New Jersey. Published by Scribner, priced at $25.00, 304 pages – this carefully crafted work - - the result of unlimited access to Manny Ramirez and his family, friends, teammates and handlers is fascinating stuff about the man many view as the Greta Garbo of baseball. What you see is often not what you get. In the crass and common world of gee whiz biographies, this combo bio and autobiography reveals much about a gifted and sensitive athlete and the world he lives in. Its sub-title proclaims: “Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger” and that it is. NOTABLE!

“As They See ‘Em,” Scribner, $26.00, 352 pages) is an inside book compiled by author Bruce Weber after talking with about one third of the umpires who plied their tough trade 2006-2008 - - and that is only part of this effort.

Weber, who has been with The New York Times in various roles since the mid 1980s, reveals a journalist’s curiosity and a fan’s zeal as he ranges far and wide over issues, icons, irritations and insights. If the wide world of umpires is your dish – this is the book for you.

“Hardball Times Season Preview 2009” (Acta Sports, $19.95, 296 pages) is a bargain for all it has to offer. A think tank of analyses, graphs, stats, essays, projection and commentaries for over a thousand players and all 30 MLB teams – this is a mother and father lode of all stuff baseball for the new season.




Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." The prolific Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK (2010) Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.